Egypt’s tourism minister calls for lift on all ‘unnecessary’ travel bans
The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Monday Nov. 9. AP
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CAIRO: Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed has called for all unnecessary travel bans for tourists to be lifted, describing the global tourism movement as “a cornerstone for both international economic and human development,” Youm7 reported.

The comment was made during the Executive Council meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organizations (UNWTO,) held Tuesday in Malaga, Spain.

The meeting, which focused on security and tourism issues, marked the start of Egypt’s 12-month-long chairmanship of the UNWTO’s executive council.

“Egypt has taken significant positive steps in addressing security issues and I call upon all those countries currently imposing flight suspension to Egypt to reconsider the request positively,” said Rashid.

Following a Russian plane crash that killed 224 passengers and crew Oct. 31, 2015, 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm al-Sheikh, swift decisions were taken by a number of countries including Germany, Russia, France and the UK to evacuate their tourists from the resort town, after reports that a bomb may have been the cause.

Egypt’s political turmoil following the 2011 January uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak has badly affected the tourism sector, which has only recently started to rebound.

The sector, Egypt’s second most important source of national income after the Suez Canal, provides direct and indirect employment to up to 12.6 percent of the country’s workforce.

The country’s revenues from the tourism industry decreased by 15 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year, said tourism ministry economic advisor Adala Ragab in October.

Egypt’s tourism authorities said two weeks ago that the country received a mere 9 million tourists in 2015, down from a previously predicted 17 million.

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